The Adelaide and Meath Hospital, Tallaght has issued notice that, from tomorrow, April 8th, that all GP- refererred patients must now make an appointment for blood tests.
Appointments can be made online or by calling a premium telephone number. Up until now the blood testing facility was a walk in clinic at the hospital. The cost of the premium phone call to make an appointment is €2.03 from a landline and up to €2.50 from a mobile phone. The premium phone number is 1517 345333
If booking appointments are going to lead in a decrease in waiting times, which currently can be up to three hours, this change could be cautiously welcomed, for those with online access. Appointments can be booked online at Swiftqueue.com. The site is quite user friendly, you create a log in, enter your information and there are drop down menus to choose your location and the service you require. The system then provides you with an appointment time.
What about those without online access?
According to the 2011 Census, internet usage among the over 65 population is on the increase, with 21% of people between the age of 60 and 74 now using the internet . There is no information for those aged over 74. While the figures have increased from the 2005 census, there still remains over 300,000 older people in Ireland with no access to the internet.
The other social group with limited access to the internet is the poor.
Their options for making an appointment for a blood test, from tomorrow, in Tallaght hospital, are to phone the premium phone number. Is this the way forward for free medical services, such as blood tests, in Ireland, inflicting a booking charge to the vulnerable members of society?